At the end of the year some saints not only enter into a new calendar year but also into a new spiritual beginning. At the end of the year and at the beginning of a new year, they go before God to review and settle their condition before God from the passing year. Just as a businessman settles his account at the end of the year, we should review our spiritual account before God. If we balance only our outward account but not our inward account, we will enter into a new calendar year but not into a new spiritual year.
I hope that from this year forward every saint will have a proper spiritual conclusion to a passing year and a proper beginning of a new spiritual year. Not only should we have a conclusion related to outward matters, such as our career, our education, and our domestic affairs, but even more, we should have a conclusion in regard to spiritual matters. At the end of a year we need to go before God and settle the accounts related to our spiritual condition. We need to consider before the Lord how we have spent our time and the things in which we failed and in which we overcame. We need to consider the areas in which we responded to the Lord’s demands and in which we rejected the Lord’s will. We need to bring our spiritual condition before the Lord in order to settle accounts and have a proper clearance so that we can have a new beginning.
THE CHANGING OF DAYS, MONTHS, AND YEARS
DEPENDING ON LIGHT-BEARERS
There are two very important principles concerning days, months, and years. The first principle involves their relationship to light-bearers, and the second principle involves their relationship to death and resurrection. In regard to the first principle, days, months, and years are related to light-bearers, that is, to the sun and the moon. A day consists of the time that it takes for the earth to rotate on its own axis, whereas a year consists of the time that it takes for the earth to revolve around the sun. Every twenty-four hours the earth rotates on its axis, and during this time there is one appearing of the sun. Furthermore, every three hundred sixty-five days the earth revolves around the sun in the solar system. A day involves a small revolution, but a year involves a great revolution. Both the changing of a day and the changing of a year are in relation to the sun. The changing of a month is related to the revolution of the moon around the earth. Both the sun and the moon are light-bearers. Every changing of days, months, and years is related to light-bearers. Because there are light-bearers, there are days, months, and years.
Every change in our spiritual experience involves light, whether it is a great change like a new year, a lesser change like a month, or a small change like a day. Whenever we encounter light, there is a change. When we met God, who is light (1 John 1:5), there was a change. When we met Christ, who is God and who is light (John 8:12; 9:5; 12:46), there was a change. God in Christ is our light-bearer. Without the sun, there are no days or years, and without the moon, there are no months. Likewise, if a person does not encounter God in Christ, there will be no spiritual change, either great or small. Every change in our spiritual condition depends upon meeting God.
In order to have a new spiritual year, we need to specifically seek God’s face and meet Him. We should bring our condition, past and present, to Him and place it before Him in the light of His face in order to receive His shining. He is facing us, waiting for us, and open to us. We should not think that we are the ones who are seeking God; actually, He is seeking us and waiting for us. Rather than being closed, we should open ourselves to Him. We should not treat our days in a loose manner. When we approach a new calendar year, we should come to God and open ourselves to His light concerning not only the state of our earthly affairs but also the condition of our spiritual life. We need to spend some time in the presence of God, presenting our past and present condition to Him and allowing Him to shine on us. As the Spirit, He will come to us, and with His Spirit there will be light shining on the items that we place before Him. When we encounter God in Christ as the Spirit coming to us as light, we will have a new beginning. When we encounter light, we will also encounter God as the light-bearer. These encounters bring in changes that are like the changes associated with days, months, and years. If we want to have changes, from small changes to great changes, we must meet God.
THE PRINCIPLE OF DAYS, MONTHS, AND YEARS
BEING DEATH AND RESURRECTION
I know of some brothers and sisters who have always fasted and prayed through the night at the end of a year, especially on New Year’s Eve. They go before God, bringing their life and work and their spiritual condition from the previous year to Him, praying about item after item in order to receive God’s enlightenment. When they encounter His shining concerning their shortages, failures, weaknesses, and mistakes, they confess them before God and receive His forgiveness and cleansing. With the exposure of their defects and deficiency, they also pray to be supplied and filled with God. Through this, they receive fresh grace, fresh enlightenment, fresh power, and fresh promises from God. Thus, they have a new beginning before God. Their past is terminated, and there is a new beginning for their future. This illustrates the second principle related to days, months, and years, which is the principle of death and resurrection. The ending of a day and the beginning of a new day illustrate death and resurrection. Likewise, the ending of a month and a year and the beginning of a new month and a new year illustrate death and resurrection. The ending and the beginning of days, months, and years signify death and resurrection.
The course of our spiritual journey involves a continuing experience of death and resurrection. An ending and a beginning always are followed by another ending and another beginning. These endings and beginnings correspond to Paul’s word in Philippians 3:13, which says, “Forgetting the things which are behind and stretching forward to the things which are before.” Forgetting the things which are behind refers to an ending, and stretching forward to the things which are before refers to a new beginning.
On the first day of a new year we should realize that the previous year is behind us and that a new year, a new beginning, is before us. The former things have passed away, and all things should be new. In the light of the Lord, our former weaknesses, failures, and mistakes will come to an end, and we need not bring them with us. With a new year we can have a new beginning, a good beginning, starting in resurrection. The meaning of the changing of days, months, and years is related to encountering God as light and to experiencing death and resurrection. We need to meet God, and we need an ending and a new beginning. We should not remain in our old experiences, whether good or bad, because both the good and the bad have been terminated so that we can begin anew.
THE CHANGING OF DAYS, MONTHS, AND YEARS
DEPENDING ON GOD HIMSELF
Every change within us, whether it is associated with days, months, or years, depends on God. God is light, and even death and resurrection are of God. Whenever we meet God, we meet light; when we meet God, we touch both death and resurrection. Whenever we meet God, we are in the presence of light; when we meet God, we enter into death and resurrection so that there is an ending and a new beginning.
God’s work in the universe is a work of renewing. He wants to end the old things and begin something new. When His work is accomplished, He will be able to declare that all things are truly new (2 Cor. 5:17). The proper celebration of a new year is to have a new beginning. We need to go before God and touch His presence. When we touch God and meet God, we will enter into a new year and have a new beginning.
SEPARATED FROM THE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD
Meeting God in this way is not the same as the New Year celebrations of worldly people. People in the world celebrate the arrival of a new year outwardly, but they do not experience a new spiritual beginning. Their noisy way of celebration can be likened to the celebration of the children of Israel at the foot of Mount Sinai, who were sitting down to eat and drink and rising up to play. Their sitting down to eat and drink and rising up to play were related to idolatry (Exo. 32:4-6; 1 Cor. 10:7). Worldly people today celebrate the new year by sitting down to eat and drink and by rising up to play. When those who belong to God spend time to meet God at the beginning of a new year, their meeting with God is not a time for celebration. Rather, it is a time of sorrow, weeping, and fasting. When we see the desolation of our personal situation, the failures related to the church’s condition, the need for salvation in many sinners, the shortage in function of many saints, the lack of accomplishment related to the Lord’s will, and the frustration of God’s plan, we will be full of sorrow and repentance.
Ezra 7:9 speaks of the first day of the first month, saying, “On the first day of the first month he began to go up from Babylon.” Ezra left Babylon, a place of degradation, on the first day of the first month; this is very meaningful. According to 8:21, Ezra proclaimed a fast for all the Israelites who intended to return to the Holy Land so “that we might humble ourselves before our God to seek from Him a straight way for ourselves and for our little ones and for all our possessions.” All the Israelites who left Babylon, a place of degradation and captivity, needed to fast on the first day of the first month in order to grieve, confess, regret, and repent before God, asking Him for His grace and mercy.
If, by God’s mercy, we meet God and are enlightened by Him at the beginning of a new calendar year, we will mourn and weep instead of celebrate. We will fast instead of feasting and grieve instead of rejoicing. We will weep and grieve, and we will pray and petition. Then we truly will have a new beginning of a new spiritual year. May the Lord be merciful and gracious to us to bring us into a new spiritual year, year after year. May we go before Him and ask Him to give us a new beginning. May we be under His enlightenment and receive His mercy. Such a seeking will bring us into victory and deliver us from the worldliness and celebrations associated with a new calendar year.
(God’s Need and God’s Goal, Chapter Four, W. Lee, published by Living Stream Ministry)